The effective and rapid detection of Fire Blight, an important bacterial disease caused by the quarantine pest E.amylovora
, is crucial for today’s horticulture. This study explored the application of non-invasive proximal hyperspectral remote sensing (RS) in order to differentiate the healthy (H), infected (I) and dry (D) leaves of apple trees. Analysis of variance was employed in order to determine which hyperspectral narrow spectral bands exhibited the most significant differences. Spectral signatures for the range of 400–2500 nm were acquired with Thermo Scientific Evolution 220 and iS50NIR spectrometers. The selected spectral bands were then used to evaluate several RS indices, including ARI (Anthocyanin Reflectance Index), RDVI (Renormalized Difference Vegetation Index), MSR (Modified Simple Ratio) and NRI (Nitrogen Reflectance Index), for Fire Blight detection in apple tree leaves. Furthermore, a new index was proposed, namely QFI. The spectral indices were tested on apple trees infected by Fire Blight in a quarantine greenhouse. Results indicated that the short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) band located at 1450 nm was able to distinguish (I) and (H) leaves, while the SWIR band at 1900 nm differentiated all three leaf types. Moreover, tests using the Pearson correlation indicated that ARI, MSR and QFI exhibited the highest correlations with the infection progress. Our results prove that our hyperspectral remote sensing technique is able to differentiate (H), (I) and (D) leaves of apple trees for the reliable and precise detection of Fire Blight.
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